The Swamp Thing #1 Review

The Swamp Thing #1

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar

From out of the beyond, a new run of ‘The Swamp Thing’ looms!  Our first cover is a striking one, depicting some of the terrible torment that Levi Kamei experiences during his transformation into the titular being.  This is a great first cover and hints at some of the fever dream yet to come.

‘Becoming, Part 1’: the story opens on a gruesome crime scene in the Sonoran Desert, shrouded in dark folklore.  We then hop aboard a flight from India to join our protagonist, who is clearly not having a good time.  Levi Kamei is significant not only for being the new ‘Guardian of the Green’/Swamp Thing but also as DC Comics’ first Indian lead.  He is instantly relatable and promises to be an interesting character to follow.

As we cut from Levi’s return to New York back to the grisly scene in the desert, we meet a twisted, horrific figure of legend: The Pale Wanderer.  As the sheriff faces this nightmare unfolding, Levi wrestles both with his past and the uncertainty of what he is becoming.  The closing scenes show a pivotal encounter and give exciting hints of what is yet to come.

Ram V has written something very special here, with dialogue that informs character and propels the story forwards.  Each story beat is expertly handled, from the deputy recounting the myth of the Pale Wanderer through to the dramatic exchanges of the closing pages.  He conveys the emotion and atmosphere of each moment perfectly, drawing us into the dusty world of the desert just as easily as the fragmented recollections of Levi.  The effect of Ram V’s words is amplified by some excellent lettering by Aditya Bidikar, who gives us subtle reading cues along with easily identifiable ‘voices’ through the use of clear type and varied bubbles.  The speech of the Pale Wanderer, for example, is as black as the crude he drinks.

We are immersed even further by the wonderful art from Mike Perkins who, along with exemplary colour work from Mike Spicer, uses a broad range of comic techniques to engage our imaginations.  Soon we are transported beyond the page and into a dark and mystifying world.  Although the images are at times gruesome, they are never gratuitous and always serve the scene.  Shifts in tone, palette and style help guide us through a jam-packed first issue through to its thrilling conclusion.

Verdict

This premier issue of ‘The Swamp Thing’ is outstanding.  It instantly hooks the reader and doesn’t let go.  The combination of masterful writing and art feel a lot like the early days of Vertigo comics (a line DC used to tell darker, ‘mature’ themed stories) while also being entirely fresh and modern.  The cast of characters is great and the plot threads entangling them are intriguing.  Read Swamp Thing today.  It’s going to be a seriously good ride.

(Recommended for ages 13+)

Review by Andy Flood, 23/6/21

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